Scarlett Johansson may seem like an unlikely lead for a Judd Apatow film, but in this context her casting actually makes a lot of sense. Johansson has signed on to star in Can a Song Save Your Life?, which will be written and directed by John Carney (Once) and produced by Apatow. The film follows “a washed-up A&R man who forms a passionate bond with a young singer-songwriter (Johansson) from out of town.”

The project calls for Johansson to sing, which shouldn’t be a problem for the actress. Johansson is in fact a professional singer, having released an album of Tom Waits covers titled Anywhere I Lay My Head back in 2008 and a collaboration with Pete Yorn called Break Up in 2009. Though the male lead has yet to be cast, Mark Ruffalo and Jim Carrey have been rumored as possibilities. (FWIW, I vote Ruffalo.) Shooting on the film will begin in New York City next year. [The Playlist]

After the jump, new gigs for the stars of Twilight, Wizards of Waverly Place, and the late-’90s/early-’00s teen alien show Roswell. Gosh, remember that?

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We had a couple of days where mid-level casting for a lot of projects was going crazy. Maybe there was something in the air; maybe casting directors and agents just all got together and had a field day. It’s been a bit slower today, but still there are a couple of items to catch up on. After the break, you’ll find info on how:

  • Robin Williams appears to be cast in Gently Down the Stream, with Robert De Niro and Susan Sarandon.
  • Joel David Moore (Avatar) will be in Oliver Stone’s Savages.
  • and Katie Cassidy takes the lead in Freaky Deaky. Read More »

From Weeds to weed — Demian Bichir is making the move into Oliver Stone‘s world. The director is making Savages, based on the book by Don Winslow. He already has quite the cast lined up: Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson play up and coming pot dealers coerced into working for a drug cartel when their girlfriend O (Blake Lively) is kidnapped. John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Emile Hirsch, Salma Hayek and Benicio Del Toro are all in the cast, and now Demian Bichir has signed on, too. Read More »

Oliver Stone‘s adaptation of the novel Savages, in which two pot-dealing friends are roped into working for the drug cartel that kidnaps their young female companion, is becoming a hot property. The combination of a young cast, a long-established major director and lively material tends to do that. Multiple studios were in contention for distribution rights, and Universal has taken the brass ring.

Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch are the leads; Benicio Del Toro and Salma Hayek are looking like the two key cartel characters, and multiple actresses are reading for the role of the female friend. Blake Lively, Abbie Cornish & Teresa Palmer are all said to be possible names, though Deadline also says Oliver Stone might go with a ‘discovery.’ Oliver Stone, Shane Salerno and novel author Don Winslow are working on the script now.

After the break,  a total change of gears: a Universal film based on the musical In the Heights is no longer happening, for the moment. Read More »

Oliver Stone is assembling Savages, which adapts the book of the same name by Don Winslow and has Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch set to star as best friends and pot growers who get roped into working for a drug cartel when the bad guys kidnap their friend/girlfriend.

Salma Hayek is a possible pick to be the matriarch of the drug cartel, and Benicio Del Toro is now signing on to play the cartel’s enforcer, who sets the kidnapping, and therefore the plot, in motion. Some script work is being done now by Oliver Stone, Don Winslow and Shane Salerno, and there are ongoing discussions with a couple of studios to pick up the project — Universal seems like the likely home right now. [Deadline]

After the break, new gigs for Emma Robers, Kenan Thompson and the new Jason Voorhees, Derek Mears. Read More »

Josh Hutcherson still might become one of the bigger young actors out there. He was high in the running for the lead in Sony’s new Spider-Man before being overlooked in favor of Andrew Garfield. Part of the problem might have been his previous commitment to Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Regardless, he’s doing Journey 2; he’s in Joseph Kahn’s Detention (trailer here), and his role in the remade Red Dawn might finally be seen this year.

And that’s just the start. He’s just locked down a role in Benicio Del Toro‘s first directorial effort, which is one of the segments in the omnibus film 7 Days in Havana. And he has met with director Gary Ross about the lead in The Hunger Games, for which he’s hoping to compete with another up and coming actor, Alex Pettyfer. Read More »

Peter and Bobby Farrelly are still on the hunt for their new Three Stooges. The cast was once assembled, with Benicio del Toro set to play Moe, Jim Carrey set for Curly and Sean Penn as Larry. But that splintered, starting when Sean Penn took a sabbatical from work, and late last year the film moved from MGM to Fox, where it is fast-tracked to shoot this spring.

But, as of now, there are no Stooges. Johnny Knoxville and Andy Samberg have been tenuously linked to roles, and the brothers have recently said that Benicio del Toro is still an option for Moe. Now, in an interview to promote Hall Pass, the brothers have mentioned an unlikely collection of additional options: Woody Harrelson, Larry David, Hank Azaria and Justin Timberlake. Read More »

People really want to make movies about mob hitman Richard ‘the Ice Man’ Kuklinski. Mickey Rourke has been attached to The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer for some time. But last November we heard about a rival film: The Iceman, with Michael Shannon playing Kuklinski and possible support from Benicio del Toro and James Franco.

Now the casting of those two appears to be confirmed, and it looks like The Iceman will beat the other production to the starting line. Read More »

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